Has touting 'green jobs' been a mistake?
Photo: UO Power Shift 09
In trying to convince the nation that passing climate legislation and promoting renewable energy are both good policy, the job creation aspect has undoubtedly been front and center, sometimes seemingly eclipsing the environmental benefits. But has promoting green jobs really been the best policy? Recent comments by California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman (R), quoted in Climate Progress, got me thinking all the green jobs focus has been a mistake.
While green jobs are an important and growing part of our state’s economic future, we cannot forget the other 97% of jobs in key sectors like manufacturing, agriculture, transportation and energy. We compete for jobs with many other states and our environmental policy must reflect that reality.
Leave aside for the moment the effect that renewable energy and climate legislation will have on these sectors. In continually touting green jobs too often we’ve unwittingly set up an opposition and point of conflict that doesn’t need to be there. In fact it creates an entry to a conflict that is at least partially fictional. It also opens the door to asking “where are all the green jobs” and pointless debate about whether or not a particular job is really a green job or not — though it is true that some jobs are greener than others. Furthermore, it subtly reinforces the perception, incorrect as it may be, that the environmental movement wants to take over the country.
Getting back to those other 97 percent of jobs Whitman refers to: The fact of the matter is that if you take a perspective longer than the next one or two election cycles, any short term hiccups caused by meeting more stringent environmental and energy standards are outweighed by the longer term benefits.
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